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Planning to give your breastfed baby some pumped breast milk or formula? Learn how to ease the transition between nursing and bottle-feeding, and check out our round-up of the best bottles to prevent nipple confusion.

By Nicole Harris
March 23, 2021
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Even if you're exclusively breastfeeding your baby, there will always be reasons to give them a bottle. Social obligations, your job, and everyday errands can prevent you from nursing on schedule and sometimes, let's face it, your boobs need a break. Plus, who doesn't sometimes want a caregiver or partner to feed their baby? All of this, of course, requires you to get a few baby bottles.

An image of a mother feeding her baby.
Credit: Getty Images.

It's important to introduce bottles to breastfeeding infants at the right time; otherwise, you risk nipple confusion or your baby becoming too attached to the bottle. Keep reading to learn when to give bottles to a breastfed baby, and check out our round-up of the best options on the market today. 

When to Introduce the Bottle

It's usually a good idea to let Baby get the hang of breastfeeding before you offer them a bottle Infants who are given bottles too early sometimes develop a preference for them, since bottle-feeding requires less effort than nursing. Once a baby learns the proper nursing technique, they're less apt to favor the bottle. 

Most breastfed babies are ready for bottles around 4 to 6 weeks, says Gina Ciagne, a certified lactation counselor and senior director for professional relations at Lansinoh Laboratories. If your baby is nursing like a champ at 2 or 3 weeks, it's fine to offer a bottle at that time, says Jennifer Shu, M.D., a pediatrician in Atlanta and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn. But proceed cautiously: If they prefer the bottle, offer it less often for a week or two.

You don't want to wait too long to introduce bottles either. "If you go much past 6 weeks, your infant may refuse the bottle," Dr. Shu says. "If you leave Baby with Grandma for an hour, she'll scream and hold out for milk until Mom comes home." That's no fun for anyone!

Important Bottle Features for Breastfeeding Babies

When buying a bottle for breastfeeding babies, look out for these key features.

Slow-flow nipples. New York-based lactation consultant Leigh Anne O'Connor recommends slow-flow nipples, usually advertised as "level one." These encourage your baby to use similar muscles to breastfeeding—unlike nipples with a faster flow, which might make it too easy for your baby to get milk. (Why would they want to drink from the breast if the bottle gets them more milk with less effort?) You might need to change nipple levels as your baby grows, but O'Connor recommends staying with the slowest nipple for as long as possible.

Wide and soft nipples. It might also help to have a wide, soft nipple. These require a sucking motion that closely resembles breastfeeding, which helps ease the transition from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding (and back again). 

Whatever your baby prefers. Some babies simply take to certain bottles over others. Feel free to test a few different brands to discover what they prefer—it will make the introduction to bottle-feeding easier for everyone involved!

Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies

If you're looking to introduce a bottle to a breastfeeding baby, consider these five options, which get top reviews from experts and real moms.

Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle
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1. Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle

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With naturally shaped silicone nipples and a soft body, these Comotomo bottles closely mimic the natural breastfeeding experience. Parents love the wide-neck design for easy cleaning, and they don’t have to worry about putting the bottles in dishwashers or microwaves (the silicone material is naturally made without BPA, PVC, or phthalate). Non-leaking venting features might prevent gas-causing air bubbles—a relief to parents of colicky babies!

Dr. Brown's Options+ Wide-Neck Baby Bottle
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2. Dr. Brown's Options+ Wide-Neck Baby Bottle

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Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding are very different feeding methods. Ease the transition between them with Dr. Brown's baby bottles. Your little one will feel comfortable with the nipples engineered for a proper latch and consistent flow, leading to a natural feeding experience. An anti-colic internal vent system preserves nutrients, decreases spit-up and digestive discomfort, and helps prevent colic. Feel free to put the BPA-free silicone bottles in the dishwasher as well.

Lansinoh Breastfeeding Bottles
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3. Lansinoh Breastfeeding Bottles

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Why did these make our list of best bottles for breastfed babies? Designed with 50 years of research, they’re clinically proven to reduce nipple confusion by promoting natural sucking motions in babies. An air ventilation system reduces gas intake (and therefore colic and spit-up), while flexible BPA-free silicone adapts to your baby’s palette. The wide-base nipples also allow for easy latching.

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Baby Bottles
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4. Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Baby Bottles

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Your baby shouldn’t have any trouble latching with the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Baby Bottles. The breast-like nipple shape provides some familiarity, and the slow nipple flow introduces your baby to the bottle gently. These best baby bottles also have a venting anti-colic valve, BPA-free and phthalate-free material, and wide-neck design for easy cleaning.  

Munchkin Latch Anti-Colic Baby Bottles
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5. Munchkin Latch Anti-Colic Baby Bottles

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This bottle does it all: helps your baby get acquainted with bottles, reduces gassiness and fussiness with an anti-colic valve, and grows with your little one (thanks to the inclusion of nipples with different flow levels). The flexible nipples stretch like Mom’s real nipple, ensuring a proper latch and letting your baby control the milk flow. It’s no wonder the Munchkin Latch Anti-Colic Baby Bottles are recommended by feeding and sleep experts alike! 

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